Most customers eating out would probably think food safety and hygienic food preparation are pretty basic requirements. Yet the reality, as many in the foodservice industry will know, can be a little different. News of food outlets failing to meet hygiene standards can often get picked up in local media reports. Not everyone seems to be taking food hygiene as seriously as they should.
The truth is that most customers don’t tend to think about how hygienic a food outlet is; but they do care.
The announcement by the Welsh government in December 2011 that it wants to be the first in the UK to make hygiene score displays mandatory (http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/12/14/food-hygiene-ratings-are-good-for-business-says-health-minister-lesley-griffiths-91466-29949403/) illustrates how central food hygiene and safety is to people’s expectations of food outlets.
Welsh health minister’s Lesley Griffiths statement on the plans suggests such initiatives will increase the pressure on foodservice businesses to take food safety seriously.
She commented: ‘The mandatory display of hygiene scores will recognise food businesses with good food hygiene standards, and provide all food businesses with a visible incentive to improve and maintain good food hygiene standards.’
The first UK launch would follow statutory schemes in Denmark, parts of the US and Auckland, New Zealand.
Businesses that aren’t ready to proudly display high standards of hygiene and food safety at the entrance to their food outlets could soon face a rude awakening in Wales.
And for businesses elsewhere it’s a reminder of how important food hygiene is to consumers. It may not be the first thing on their minds when they book a meal at a restaurant; but they won’t be quick to forget a bad experience or news of poor food hygiene either.
And the popularity of schemes to show the hygiene standards of foodservice businesses show that it matters.